1. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    'Lying' in Stories

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Cacian, Jan 16, 2012.

    Trying to tackle lies, which is a concept of its own, often gets me muddled up because I am not sure which would come cross as believable without me sounding patronising over my characters.
    in other words
    Do you firstly define the word LIE then separate it from an excuse to a white lie to just a pretense.
    I wish not for my characters to appear as deceptive either.

    For Example

    Jonny's friends were growing more and more impatient by the minute and were about to leave when fortunately for him he got there just before they did.
    Jonny excused himself,looking all flustered, and said he did not notice the time as his watch had stopped but of course he was lying.

    OR

    Jonny's friends were growing more and more impatient by the minute waiting for himn and were about to leave when fortunatley for him he got there just before they did.
    Jonny excused himself, looking all flustered, and said he did not notice the time as his watch had stopped.
    His friends did not believe him.



    which is better?
     
  2. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Both are kind of terrible. Neither of them actually tell the truth. If we'd already followed Jonny's actions previously, we'd know in the first example that he was lying. As for the second example, he might be telling the truth. Just because his friends don't believe him, it doesn't make him a liar. Maybe his friends are just dicks.

    To sum up: the first example just flat out tells us that Jonny was lying, which is bad writing. The second example has nothing to do with him lying at all.
     
  3. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    How can they not be? They're fictional, aren't they? Figments of your imagination? They are a deception in themselves, who cares if they deceive?

    BTW, why is this in plot development? Shouldn't it be in character development?
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    people lie... for many reasons and at many levels from the supposedly 'kind' white lie, to the duplicitous 'of course i love you, honey!' all the way up to 'we're attacking iraq because they have WMDs and are ready to use them against us'...

    so how can you write believable stories if none of your characters do anything but tell the total truth all the time?... what kind of stories would they be?... and who'd want to read them?
     
  5. Corgz
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    Corgz Senior Member

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    He should of said somthing->

    "I'm sorry, i didn't realise the time" He lied, his friends did'nt believe him.
     
  6. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Exactly! so why make them lie too.
    In life you are only allowed one thing at a time.
    If they are already made up so why make them lie too?
    It is like saying well if you are a lie then why need to lie too?
    The question I was reallyafter is this
    which is better
    To make the character admit to themselves that they have lied which is illustrated in example number one.
    or
    To make other characters think he lied.
    These are two different concepts.
    My dilemma is thus this:
    How do I avoind a clash between the two concepts?
    which do I go for , meaning which is more effective my character admitting to have lied or his friends thinking he has lied?
     
  7. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Exactly! so why make them lie too.
    In life you are only allowed one thing at a time.
    If they are already made up so why make them lie too?
    It is like saying well if you are a lie then why need to lie too?
    The question I was reallyafter is this
    which is better
    To make the character admit to themselves that they have lied which is illustrated in example number one.
    or
    To make other characters think he lied.
    These are two different concepts.
    My dilemma is thus this:
    How do I avoind a clash between the two concepts?
    which do I go for , meaning which is more effective my character admitting to have lied or his friends thinking he has lied?
     
  8. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, in the first instance, he didn't admit to lying. You told us he was (which really is a bad way to write it).

    As to effective - it depends on whether or not the character actually did lie, doesn't it? If the character is known to lie, it wouldn't be surprising his friends thought he was lying. So then you have a nice conflict only if he really was telling the truth this time. On the other hand, if he isn't known for lying, and his friends thought he was, then the conflict comes with why his friends didn't believe him. What dynamics are present for that to happen?
     
  9. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    This seems to work better because both thought the same.
     
  10. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Jonny did lie because I told you. How else would you put it to the reader?
    the character isn't known to lie but to make the scene less stressful, because most make up white lies only at the last minute to help us avoid confrontation.
    What I am suggesting is that we do not know we are going to lie until the last minute hence the running late bit.
    It happens to all of us we are late and we could easilyt make it up last minute.
    The other side of the coin is that no he did not lie but his friends thouhgt he did.( a possibility that had crossed their mind that he might have)
    Does that make them the liars because they happen to have done it themselves?
     
  11. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    To make them realistic? After all, real people lie. To give your characters verisimilitude, they ought to lie.
     
  12. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    By the character's history - earlier scenes where he lied and was caught out. By his actions while telling his friends about the watch - shifting his feet, not looking at them, blushing. Readers don't want to be told everything - they want to see it as well. It makes them part of the story.
     
  13. Corgz
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    Corgz Senior Member

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    That would be quite ambiguous... thats also what shy people do. and love-struck people do... it may come across differently to different readers.
     
  14. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    To borrow your premise:

    ...

    John kissed Susie again, the taste of her raspberry lip gloss thick in his mouth. It was overly sweet, but the fact that it was coming from this girl's mouth made it more than tolerable. As John brushed Susie's hair from her face, his eye caught the digital display on his watch. His mouth stopped moving and he pulled away.

    "Crap! I was supposed to meet your brother ten minutes ago."

    "Aww, don't go," Susie pleaded. "I like having you here."

    "I'll come back tomorrow, promise," John said, giving Susie a quick peck. He shrugged his jacket on and rushed out of the house.

    Tim and Jake were standing, straddling their bikes, at the entrance to the park. "Do we really have to wait for him?" Tim asked.

    "Couple more minutes," Jake replied. He looked both ways down the street. "Look, here he comes now."

    "'Bout freakin' time."

    John pedaled furiously toward them and skidded to a stop in the gravel path leading into the park. "I'm here, I'm here. My watch stopped."

    "Whatever, let's just go," Tim said. He stood on his left pedal, and started off down the path.

    ...


    Something like that.
    Not only do we know that John is lying, but we have some context as to why he's lying. He doesn't want his friends to know that he was off making out with one of their sisters. There's no need to shove the reader's face in it, they will know everything they need to know from what's happened before.
    So, just make the lie contextual, and the reader will get it.
     
  15. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    And writing something ambiguous would be wrong? Everything has to be clear-cut? Like it is in life itself?
     
  16. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Thank you for such a great piece.
    I can see now what you mean.
     
  17. TheWritingWriter
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    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

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    The two paragraphs confused me. I think there is some editing that could be done to better the quality of the paragraphs but also add some clarification. Also, in order to answer your question I would like to give an example of what I would do in this circumstance, and I hope it's not out of place for me to borrow your example. I feel this way it will be more relevant and more helpful.

    Johnny's friends were growing more & more impatient by the minute. Deciding that they had waited long enough, they turned to leave, but as they did Johnny pulled up just in the nick of time. He jumped out of the car and darted over to his group of friends, who Johnny could tell by the look on their faces were obviously annoyed with his tardiness. Embarrassed to have caused his friends trouble, he pointed to his watch and said nervously, "I'm sorry guys. My watch broke, and it wasn't until the movie had started until I noticed." He buried his hands in his pockets, hiding the functioning watch from view. Johnny wasn't a very good liar, and he knew it. He surely hoped that his no one would see through his fib.

    Not as impressive or detailed as TheIllustratedMan gave us, but I hope it can help nonetheless. :)
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    How do you discover a liar in real life?

    You may discover inconsistencies between what the character says and what "facts" are in evidence in the story. Or there may be inconsistencies in what the character says at different times.

    We also learn to see certain kinds of body language, and associate them with lying. Fidgeting, sweating, not meeting someone's eyes. Or an overly smooth, glib delivery from a well rehearsed lie.

    Be a dedicated observer of people and their behavior. Pay attention to the details, and learn to describe what you see.
     
  19. AmsterdamAssassin
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    However, any one of those signs do not in fact tell you the person is lying. For instance, trained liars tend to look you in the eye more than average, because they check your reactions to their lies so they can adjust them on the fly. And they rarely fidget or sweat. In most cases, liars tend to hold their bodies unusually still, in order to keep their non-verbal signals from betraying them. Often, there is an incongruity between the non-verbal and the verbal. And while the non-verbal signals in the face are easier to control, it's often the non-verbal signals in the body/limbs that give the liar away.
     
  20. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    well I have just found out that one can be a sophist/a trained liar and no one would actually know.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i was married to a pathological liar for 12 years, and i learned the hard way that the reason they're so believable is that by the second time they tell a lie, they've convinced themselves it's real, so they come off as telling the truth... and the anecdotes they embellish their basic lies with are so rich with detail, complete with names and dates, etc., that even when exposed as untrue, one finds it hard to believe they could have made it all up...
     
  22. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    12 years is a long time.
    When did you start do discover your ex husband was a liar?
     
  23. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    This is impressive too.
    I like that you laid off him a but saying he was not a good liar.
    A fib tend to be lighter then a lie maybe??
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cacian...
    the first hint came when we had to scrape up enough money for his plane ticket to referee a bowl game in another state, when he'd told me he had a lifetime pass on that airline due to his wife and daughter having been killed in a crash...

    i was very pg with the first of our 5 kids at the time, so needed to give him the benefit of the doubt and he slipped out of that one in some way, but more and more little holes in his stories about this and that continued to hint at a him having a serious disconnect with the truth and suspicions about the biggest lie became an ironclad conclusion 4 years and 4 kids later, when a letter arrived for him with the name of the 'dead' wife over the return address [yes, i did actually steam it open!]... seems the dead daughter [eleven years old at that time] wanted to see her daddy...

    don't ask what happened next!
     
  25. riggbren
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    A good lie should come out in the dialogue, not just because the reader says so.
     

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